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Marian Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Trailblazers in Opera

OTSL’s interactive lesson series spotlights groundbreaking past and present Black opera singers and composers who blazed the trail both in opera and in American history.

Each curriculum highlights the life and contributions of an individual singer or composer with lessons and activities keyed to state and national standards, supplementary video content, and the opportunity to host a visit in your classroom with a contemporary opera professional. The program is designed for middle and high school age students but can also be adapted for younger audiences.

Request a Trailblazer Package

Current curriculum packages:

  • Sissieretta Jones, the first Black woman to perform at Carnegie Hall in 1892 and to have an international opera career
  • The Hyers Sisters, an operatic sibling duo that re-imagined minstrelsy and helped form what we know as American musical theater in the 1800s
  • Marian Anderson, one of the undisputed greatest voices of the 20th century who, after being denied the opportunity to sing at Constitutional Hall, famously performed at Lincoln Memorial in 1939 at the invitation of Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Robert McFerrin Sr., a Sumner High School alumnus and the first African American man to sing at the Metropolitan Opera
  • Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime” and composer of the opera Treemonisha
  • More Trailblazers coming soon!